Duke Redbird, Initiatives



Wigwam Chi-Chemung

Ontario Place, Toronto, ON, Maiden Voyage June 2019

Artist, Founder, Creator

WIGWAM CHI-CHEMUNG is a floating ART installation celebrating the enduring Indigenous presence of the Anishinaabe peoples who since time immemorial resided on all the land, waters, lakes and streams in the Toronto Port Lands and surrounding territories. WIGWAM CHI-CHEMUNG can be translated as Pontoon Houseboat in English.

The Toronto waterfront has a long Indigenous tradition of robust use and transcendent human appreciation since long before the present Port Lands Authorities took ownership. Since time immemorial the waterfront was host to sacred ceremonies and community festivals. With offerings the Indigenous people prayed for the sustainability of the lands and waters. It is the intention of WIGWAM CHI-CHEMUNG to encourage the continuation of these demonstrations and celebrations to Mother Earth in solidarity with the dominant society.

The presence of the WIGWAM CHI-CHEMUNG  floating art installation on the waterfront will benefit Canadians and visitors alike. The boat is designed to be a platform for Indigenous elders and artists to share their wisdom.  During the boating season from May until November, WIGWAM CHI-CHEMUNG will act as a floating Interpretive Platform on the waterfront stopping at a number of points between the Don River in the East and the Humber River in the West.  

In association with Myseum Toronto, the Toronto Biennial of Art, and the Urban Indigenous Education Centre, the crew of the vessel will engage the public and share information of the historical Indigenous presence on all the land, waters, lakes and streams in this region.


Awen’ Gathering Circle

Collingwood, Ontario. Grand Opening, Sept. 2018

Click to Play

Click to Play

Elder, Advisor

What began as a short how-it’s-made video on the construction of Collingwood’s Awen Gathering Circle, became a documentary about collaboration along the path to reconciliation.

Tom Strnad, one of the filmmakers on the project said the film became more than a behind-the-scenes look at the design and construction of a structure as soon as he began interviews with those involved. Initially, the town wanted a short video showing how the gathering circle was made. As the filmmakers dove into how it was made, both Strnad and the town began to see the story went deeper than laser-cut steel and cleaning up an old landfill.

The Gathering Circle was created with the direct involvement of indigenous architects, and the idea was inspired by a concept Dr. Duke Redbird came up with – to pair seven Ojibwe grandfather teachings with the seven layers of a food forest.

Leaders Lab

Toronto Arts Council & Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, 2018 onwards

Elder, Advisor

“Arts leaders frequently put themselves last in line when it comes to professional development,” says Claire Hopkinson, Director & CEO of Toronto Arts Council. “Whereas individual dancers and singers recognize the need for continued professional development, it’s not well embraced at the organizational  level. To be healthy, to be reflective, to grow in confidence, we all need the occasion to pause during our careers and examine our work,” she continues. It’s with this philosophy in mind that TAC in collaboration with Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, created the TAC Leaders Lab program in 2014… read on

Urban Indigenous Education Centre

Toronto District School Board, 2016

Elder, Advisor

At the TDSB, the Urban Indigenous Education Centre is pleased to offer a variety of services with the goal of closing the opportunity gap for Indigenous students. This mandate is approached by infusing Indigenous perspectives across the curriculum for all students as well as by providing direct wrap-around supports to enhance the overall achievement of First Nation, Métis and Inuit students throughout the TDSB.

Staff at the Urban Indigenous Education Centre include a Centrally Assigned Principal, a Centrally Assigned Vice Principal, an Itinerant Student Success Teacher, an Itinerant Culture and Traditions Instructor, a Child and Youth Counsellor, a Social Worker, Instructional Leaders and Community Liaison Workers who collectively offer a wide range of services that include:

Debwewin Gallery

Toronto District School Board, Indigenous Gallery, 2015

Curator, Advisor

An art exhibit at the Toronto District School Board museum that opened Thursday has a name that seems fitting in light of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Debwewin, which means Truth, features contemporary First Nations, Metis and Inuit artwork from the TDSB's vast collection which includes work by prominent indigenous artists such as Norval Morriseau.

The inaugural exhibition was curated by Elder Dr. Duke Redbird.

"We're living in a time in Canada where great transitions are taking place and the old style of doing things is evolving," Redbird said in an interview… read on

Toronto District School Board, Daily Tribute to Indigenous Lands


Elder, Advisor

The TDSB first started acknowledging traditional lands at its meetings in June 2015.

The idea for all schools to do the same was put forward by the board's Aboriginal Community Advisory Committee this past May. It officially started at the beginning of this school year.

Community elder and committee member Duke Redbird was part of the consultation process.

"From a time when I was in school, when I was growing up and denied any access to my own culture, language, traditions and so on," said Redbird, "70 years later, to see it being introduced and little ones so proud of their heritage ... it's full circle." … read on